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Sikh temple shooting gunman Wade Michael Page was known white supremacist

2:49 PM, Aug 6, 2012   |    comments
Wade Michael Page. (AP File)
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By Judy Keen, Marisol Bello, and Donna Leinwand Leger, USA TODAY 

OAK CREEK, WI - A gunman who killed six people inside a Sikh temple in Wisconsin was a known white supremacist who had been kicked out of the Army in 1998.

Wade Michael Page, 40, of South Milwaukee, Wis., was "a frustrated neo-Nazi who had been the leader of a racist white-power band," the Southern Poverty Law Center said in a press release Monday.

The center, which has a database of more than 20,000 people it has identified as white supremacists, neo-Nazis and other members of hate groups, said Page has been on its radar since 2000.

The "motive is still being assessed at this time," FBI special agent in charge Teresa Carlson said at a news conference Monday. "We are looking at ties to white supremacy groups."

Carlson said Page "had contact with law enforcement in the past" and was in FBI files, but the FBI had no reason to believe he was planning an attack.

Heidi Beirich, who leads the Southern Poverty Law Center's Intelligence Project, which tracks what it calls hate groups, said in 2000, Page tried to purchase materials from National Alliance, a neo-Nazi group that influenced Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh. She said it was unclear what Page tried to buy.

He showed up on the "hate music" scene, leading bands including one called Youngland and another called End Apathy, Beirich said.

"He's not a guy we profiled as one of 30 to watch ... but if you are involved in a hate music band, you've taken a step, you are an activist," Beirich said.

He posted on the white supremacist website Storm Front under the name of Youngland, she said. His groups played at music festivals aimed at white supremacists, skinheads and neo-Nazis. She said his band played in a festival called Uprise in 2010 and he attended other festivals including Hammerfest, one of the largest festivals.

"It's like the Lollapalooza of hate," Beirich said.

Meantime, Label 56, which sold End Apathy records, condemned Sunday's shooting in a statement released Monday afternoon, and announced it had removed all images and products related to End Apathy from its site.

"Label 56 is very sorry to hear about the tragedy in Wisconsin and our thoughts are with the families and friends of those who are affected," the statement read. "We have worked hard over the years to promote a positive image and have posted many articles encouraging people to take a positive path in life, to abstain from drugs, alcohol, and just general behavior that can affect one's life negatively."

The statement wrapped up with, "In closing, please do not take what Wade did as honorable or respectable and please do not think we are all like that."

The Anti Defamation League listed Youngland as a hate music group in 2001. Page played with the band from 2001 to 2003, he said in an interview with Label 56, which Beirich said is a Maryland-based group that distributes white supremacist music and books.

In the interview, done in April 2010, Page said he started his band End Apathy in 2005 out of frustration that "we have the potential to accomplish so much more as individuals and a society in whole."

"The concept was based on trying to figure out what it would take to actually accomplish positive results in society and what is holding us back," he said. "A lot of what I realized at the time was that if we could figure out how to end people's apathetic ways, it would be the start toward moving forward. Of course after that it requires discipline, strict discipline to stay the course in our sick society."

He said in the interview that he was originally from Colorado. In 2000, he said, he wanted to get involved, though he doesn't specify in what.

"So I sold everything I owned except for my motorcycle and what I could fit into a backpack and went on a cross country trip visiting friends and attending festivals and shows," he says.

Oak Creek Police Chief John Edwards said Page is the sole shooter.

Page, a native of Colorado, joined the Army in 1992 and was discharged at the rank of specialist in 1998, Lt. Col. Laurel Devine of Army Public Affairs said. Page's area of specialty was psychological operations. He spent time at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, Fort Bliss in New Mexico and Fort Bragg in North Carolina. He had no deployments but received several awards, including five achievement medals, two good conduct medals and a parachutist badge, Devine said.

Page, who police said used a 9 mm handgun and several magazines, had purchased the firearm legally, said Bernard Zapor of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Police also found weapons and other ammunition in Page's apartment, Carlson said.

On Monday afternoon, the gray house on the 3700 block of Holmes Avenue where Page lived in an upstairs apartment had an orange sign in the front door with a handwritten message: "No interviews!"

Beirich says hate group activity has been on the rise since the election of President Obama. In 2011, the law center listed 1,018 hate groups in the USA, up from 602 in 2000, she says.

"It's a serious concern," she says.

Beirich lists three reasons for the increase: the rise in immigration, especially of Latinos, which show that by 2040, whites will no longer be the majority in the country; the election of the country's first black president, which she says is a result of the demographic shifts and the bad economy. She says during hard economic times, more people join extremist groups.

"People are unemployed, frustrated," she says. "People need someone to blame."

Page is one of four individuals in the law center's database who have been tied to crimes, Beirich says. The four others are: James Von Brunn who died after shooting and killing a black security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Museum in 2009 in Washington, D.C.; Richard Poplawski who was convicted of shooting and killing three Pittsburgh police officers in 2009; Keith Luke accused of killing two people and raping and shooting a third in a shooting spree in Brockton, Mass., in 2009; and Kevin Harpham, an Army veteran convicted of planting a bomb at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day parade in Spokane last year.

Contributing: Gregg Zoroya in McLean, Va. Bello reported from McLean and Leinwand Leger from Washington.

USA TODAY

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